Monday, December 17, 2007

In today's Newsday I was surprised to read two Letters to the Editor referring to a column by Rabbi Marc Gellman on "cafeteria Catholicism". (Rabbi Gellman now writes the God Squad column exclusively due to Msgr. Hartman's Parkinsons, although he has left his friend's name on the byline). The column is here:

God Squad: 'Cafeteria Catholicism' doesn't work

A snip: "Here are the reasons why Cafeteria Catholicism has no future and is a bad idea: First, in the cafeteria, you could leave behind the beliefs you most need to move closer to Christ and to the Church. You've actually done that in your selections. Abortion, for example, which you've left off your plate, is wrong not just because it's condemned by Catholic teachings. It's wrong because it is the taking of a human life, and that life is sacred; its claim trumps even the most agonizing sacrifices of the mother in helping bring a child into the world."

The first letter writer praises the column and notes the irony of someone outside the faith understanding the failings of cafeteria Catholicism better than many within the faith. The second letter is by Deacon Don Zirkel, who seems to totally misunderstand the term "cafeteria Catholic" and proclaims he is one:

"I feel blessed to be a Catholic and to recognize the generous service of many Christians, although I am troubled by some treatment of women and gays, and the attempted cover-up of the sexual abuse crisis."

Deacon Zirkel does not seem to realize the Rabbi was pointing out the folly of picking and choosing teachings, which has nothing to do with failings of individual Church members. The sex abuse crisis for instance can be condemned harshly by Catholics who fully accept the Church's teachings and doctrine. As a member of the clergy, Deacon Zirkel should more carefully read something before responding.

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